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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Ukraine says it ‘cannot be conquered’ after Putin claims

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country cannot be conquered after his rival counterpart in Russia claimed Kyiv is suffering “huge losses” in its counteroffensive.

“Ukraine cannot be conquered because our people cannot be conquered,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

“Every day, our cities and villages in the border regions with Russia and along the front line are subjected to terrorist attacks by the occupier … No matter what happens, Ukrainians take care of each other, and the state remains functional,” he said.

The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook Monday that “the Ukrainian defense forces continue to defend in the east and the south of Ukraine, conduct the offensive on Melitopol axis, and offensive operations on Bakhmut axis. As they destroy the enemy, they liberate the temporarily occupied territories and consolidate new positions.”

Smoke rises from the area in the direction of Avdiivka in the course of the Russia-Ukraine war, as seen from Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on Oct. 11, 2023.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in an interview published Monday that Ukraine was suffering “huge losses” and making little progress in its counteroffensive.

Meanwhile, Russian forces were, he said, conducting an “active defense” and improving their position along almost the whole front line, he claimed, including in the Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia and Avdiivka areas, the latter being a war hot spot with Russian forces trying to seize the city.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War noted that “Putin may be trying to temper expectations of significant Russian advances around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast [region] … Putin’s characterization of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka as an “active defense,” instead of “active combat operations” … may be an attempt to temper expectations of significant Russian advances.”

The ISW noted that “Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and material.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin claims Ukraine is suffering huge losses in counteroffensive

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint press statement with his Kyrgyz counterpart after talks in Bishkek on Oct. 12, 2023.

Vyacheslav Oseledko | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Ukraine’s losses are eight times higher than those of Russia during an interview with Chinese media, stating that Kyiv’s counteroffensive has been unsuccessful.

“Since June 4, it [Ukraine’s counteroffensive began] has been continuing. So far there are no results, there are only huge losses,” for Ukraine, Putin said in an interview with the China Media Group, according to comments published by Russian news agency Tass on Monday.

“The losses are simply huge – approximately one to eight as a ratio,” Putin said.

Putin said Russian troops are conducting an “active defense” and improving their position along almost the whole of the front line, including in the Kupiansk, Zaporizhzhia and Avdiivka areas, the latter being a hot spot in fighting in recent weeks.

CNBC was unable to verify the claims and Ukraine has not commented. Analysts agree, and Ukraine concedes, that its counteroffensive has not made as much progress as expected or hoped, but Ukrainian forces have managed to break through deep layers of Russian defenses in places and have retaken some territory. The war remains, in many places, an attritional conflict with high losses on both sides, however.

Putin is visiting Beijing this week to participate in the Belt and Road Forum that begins Tuesday, and Sino-Russian talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also attending.

The trip comes just days after Putin visited Kyrgyzstan in his first trip abroad this year, and first since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, alleging responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

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